"Every Easter or every Christmas there will be a cover story in one of the major news magazines about the 'historical Jesus,'" said Daniel C. Peterson, a professor of Arabic and Islamic studies at BYU. "A lot of people read this sort of thing and assume ... that there were some new textual finds, documentary discoveries or archeological excavations that have gutted traditional belief."
The approaches taken in these secular articles and documentaries aren't new.
"(It's) an approach to the scriptures in terms of human reason," said Gaye Strathearn, a professor of ancient scripture at BYU. "But if you take God out of the New Testament, what are you left with?"
No virgin birth. No Atonement. No Resurrection.
There was a time when these scholarly discussions rarely ventured out into the general public. In recent years, however, the debate has gone mainstream and challenged traditional conceptions of Jesus.